How To Make Cheddar Cheese In 10 Steps
Grafton Village Cheese has been making cheddar by hand since the 1880s. The company produces about 1.5 million pounds of cheese a year and uses 15 million pounds of milk.
It's all in the milk, they say. It takes 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of Grafton cheddar.
The entire cheesemaking process takes 5-6 hours. Here's how it's done in 10 steps:
1. Raw milk arrives at the company everyday from Vermont farms that raise primarily Jersey cows-- known for producing milk high in protein and butterfat--perfect for cheese.
Local Richardson Farm cattle. Photo provided.
2. Each milk load is tested at Grafton Cheese to make sure it's hormone-free before milk is pumped into giant storage tanks, like this one below.
3. The milk is heated and moved to a vat where culture and enzymes are added.
A cheesemaker keeps a close eye on his vat, where microbial rennet has been added. Cheese harps cut the coagulated curd into thin ribbons. Photo provided.
4. 30 minutes later, the milk turns into a custard. Curd is then cut with wire knives to separate the curd from the whey.
Cheesemakers gently form banks of cheese curd, allowing the whey to gather in the center of the vat. Photo provided.
5. Now, the cheddaring process begins! (Yes, cheddaring is a verb). The vat is drained and cheese curd is cut into slabs like the slabs below . The slabs are flipped over three or four times within 2-3 hours.
6. Samples of whey are taken to test the acidity level of the whey. When the acidity levels are right, the slabs are stacked on the side of the vat.
7. Then, Slabs are diced into pieces through a milling machine.
The milling machine make smaller pieces of cheese, critical for even salt distribution. Photo provided.
8. Salt is sprinkled by hand.
7. Cheese curd is shoveled into hoops (that have a disposable nylon liner) and the cheese sits overnight after the hoops are weighed, covered, and put on a press.
8. The next morning, cheese is removed from the hoops, wrapped, then sealed into cardboard cartons. They are moved to a cooler, and then the aging begins.
9. Flavored cheddars are aged at least two months in a stainless steel container. The other cheddars are aged 1-4 years, if not longer.
The more its aged, the more it flavors.
10. The cheese is cut up and hand-dipped in wax or sealed in a cryovac packaging, then it goes to the store shelves.
No wonder Grafton Village Cheese has won so many awards. You can try the cheese at the Woodstock Farmer's Market this Saturday, Sept. 23 at 11 a.m.